I took a taxi from my hotel to the ballpark in Phoenix and go there before the gates officially opened to the public. But being the unofficial kind of guy I am, I walked through an open gate, picked up a program, and was the first fan in the stands. Later I went back, bought a ticket, re-entered, and paid for the program.
It was great being in an empty ballpark, with the Mesa Solar Sox taking BP on the field. A young firstbaseman/outfielder with the Florida Marlins, Logan Morrison, caught my eye. This big lefthanded batter, who was a 22nd round draft choice, was really ripping them! The balls were exploding off his bat, some of them staying in the ballpark. Ray Burris was serving up BP, maybe that’s why this kid was on fire. I kid Ray Burris. I felt inspired to call The Baseball Zealot himself, to share this wonderful moment with him.
A few minutes later I ran into one of my favorite people in the baseball world, Marteese Robinson. Marteese played college ball with John Valentin, Mo Vaughn, & Craig Biggio, and Robinson was the best hitter in the lineup. Marteese is now a scout for the Washington Nationals, he was with the Cardinals the last time I saw him, but that was before Walt Jocketty was shown the door. Robinson is always in a good mood, with time to talk, even on no sleep, having arrived in the desert, with no sleep, from DC, late the night before. The sunglasses hid eyes that were woken up by his ringing cell, way too early, as friends wanted to discuss the election results. Marteese, like me, supported Obama, and was excited about the future of our country. He said several people, from outside the USA, had called to let him know how pleased they were that Barrack had won.
I told Marteese, I liked Morrison’s bat, but Robinson said, that might be as good as he gets. Still, besides a quick bat, I saw a young man, who listened to his hitting coach after his BP session. I’m eager to see this kid’s ceiling! Logan was leading the AFL in batting average, with power. In his second at bat in the game, he bombed a three run shot, high & deep over the rightfield wall. He got three hits on the day.
Other Solar Sox players who impressed were Detroit Tigers 5’9″ 155 pound, secondbaseman Will Rhymes. Lefty batting Rhymes, Mesa’s leadoff man, was smoking line drives all over the place, must’ve served up 12 foul ball souvenirs on the day. He got three base knocks on the day and started a nifty glove-to-glove 4-6-3 doubleplay on a sharp grounder up the middle. Then there was the big Chicago Cubs righthander Jesse Estrada. The 6’8″ 280 pound El Paso native threw five innings, spreading out five hits, walking one, while striking out three.
Eric Young, Jr. impressed again as the leadoff hitter for the Desert Dogs. The little 5’9″ Colorado Rockies outfielder walked, stole a base (without even a throw), and lined an RBI single. Toronto Blue Jays catching prospect J.P. Arencibia impressed behind the dish.
Two bigtime pitching prospects, Tommy Hanson & Chaz Roe were charting this game for their respective teams. What a show they’d put on, but that’s a story for another day.